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Tuesday, August 9, 2022
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Four Plead Guilty in Cocaine Trafficking Case

Four defendants involved in a multi-kilogram cocaine trafficking organization pleaded guilty Wednesday in District Court on St. Thomas, according to U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe.

According to Sharpe, the four men are Angel L. Negron, 53, of Puerto Rico; Edwin Monsanto, 53 of St. Thomas; Eddie Lopez-Lopez, 37, of Puerto Rico; and Stephen Torres, 27, of Puerto Rico. They pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Curtis V. Gomez for their respective roles in a conspiracy to smuggle and distribute multiple kilograms of cocaine.

Negron, Monsanto and Torres pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic in cocaine, and Lopez-Lopez pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Negron, Monsanto and Lopez-Lopez face sentences ranging from 10 years to life and maximum fines of $10 million. Torres faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million.

All four defendants were remanded to the custody of the United States Marshals Service pending sentencing, which is scheduled for June 5.

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The charges against these four defendants arose in connection with the investigation and prosecution of Roberto Tapia, the former director of the Environmental Enforcement Division of the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources, for using DPNR as a criminal enterprise to engage in drug trafficking activities. Tapia pleaded guilty in September and is in custody awaiting sentencing.

Two other co-conspirators, Angelo Hill, and Hector Alcenio, also pleaded guilty to related charges and are awaiting sentencing.

The remaining two defendants in the case, Raymond Brown and Walter Hill, are scheduled for trial Feb. 18.

Sharpe commended the work of the Federal Public Corruption Task Force, which spearheaded the investigation. The task force comprises agents from the FBI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the V.I. Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the V.I. Inspector General Office.

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Four defendants involved in a multi-kilogram cocaine trafficking organization pleaded guilty Wednesday in District Court on St. Thomas, according to U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe.

According to Sharpe, the four men are Angel L. Negron, 53, of Puerto Rico; Edwin Monsanto, 53 of St. Thomas; Eddie Lopez-Lopez, 37, of Puerto Rico; and Stephen Torres, 27, of Puerto Rico. They pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Curtis V. Gomez for their respective roles in a conspiracy to smuggle and distribute multiple kilograms of cocaine.

Negron, Monsanto and Torres pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic in cocaine, and Lopez-Lopez pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Negron, Monsanto and Lopez-Lopez face sentences ranging from 10 years to life and maximum fines of $10 million. Torres faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million.

All four defendants were remanded to the custody of the United States Marshals Service pending sentencing, which is scheduled for June 5.

The charges against these four defendants arose in connection with the investigation and prosecution of Roberto Tapia, the former director of the Environmental Enforcement Division of the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources, for using DPNR as a criminal enterprise to engage in drug trafficking activities. Tapia pleaded guilty in September and is in custody awaiting sentencing.

Two other co-conspirators, Angelo Hill, and Hector Alcenio, also pleaded guilty to related charges and are awaiting sentencing.

The remaining two defendants in the case, Raymond Brown and Walter Hill, are scheduled for trial Feb. 18.

Sharpe commended the work of the Federal Public Corruption Task Force, which spearheaded the investigation. The task force comprises agents from the FBI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the V.I. Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the V.I. Inspector General Office.